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New constitution will lead to federal system says senior Buddhist monk

The chief incumbent of Bellanwila Rajamaha Vihara warned this week the new constitution will lead to a federal system if implemented, the Daily Mirror reported. 

"the Government could surreptitiously enact the new Constitution which would harm the entire country," Bellanwila Wimalarathana said. 

"A close examination of the new constitutional proposals clearly revealed that some proposals were helpful for future peaceful co-existence of all citizens, but the rest were directly supportive of separatist objectives," he said, adding “a provincial council may even change the national policy according to its needs."

“The proposals include the diluting of the powers of parliament, taking away the powers vested in the Executive President to monitor the provincial councils through the Governors appointed by the President, to establish a constitutional court that will usurp the existing powers of the Supreme Court to make rulings on the constitutionality of legislation pertaining to key areas such as land matters, to recognise the Northern and Eastern Provinces as one unit through the Constitution itself, eliminate the powers vested with the Central Government to intervene in any provincial issues that have national implications by removing the concurrent list and remove the prevailing provisions for the Government or the Parliament to frame national policies on any subject,” he said.

“The proposals do not use the term federal directly, it is subtly introduced by the use of words that have different meanings in the three languages. Similarly, the foremost status accorded to Buddhism has been diluted by the introduction of alternative amendments to Article 9 of the constitution, which have surprised and grieved us immensely. The Maha Sangha are of the view that a new constitution is not the need of the hour. We stress that even any amendment to the Constitution at this point should be restricted only to those pertaining to bring in amendments to the electoral system. We earnestly request President Maithripala Sirisena, prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the Government to stop all attempts at introducing a new Constitution,” the senior Buddhist monk said. 

"We urge members of the Maha Sangha and all religious leaders of other faiths to come forward without further delay to educate the public and their elected representatives regarding this national crisis situation that is developing, so that all patriotic forces will unite and join hands to reject the proposals for a new constitution that is uncalled for at this juncture.”